'Grey's Anatomy' & 'Station 19' Weekly Crossovers Should Follow 'One Chicago's Suit

Meredith Jacobs
Opinion ABC/Mitch Haaseth

Grey's Anatomy and Station 19 are going to feel more like one universe next season, and that can be a good thing — if it's done right.

"People can expect crossover event between these series every week," ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke said at ABC's upfront presentation in May.

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And according to a recent report from Deadline, the two shows will "play up the shared universe aspect much more ... with storylines kept fluid and characters seamlessly going back and forth in what would feel like two-hour episodes."

Though it's unclear what that will end up looking like or if it will definitely happen, fans aren't happy about just the idea.

Grey's and Station 19 have had crossovers in the past, but they're usually events, which are great once a season but would lose their shine if they happened too often. For example, in the most recent crossover, firefighter Ripley's (Brett Tucker) death played out over the course of two hours, and that made it all the more poignant.

Obviously that's not something that can happen too often — and that's one of the reasons why it worked. And if a Grey's Anatomy character were ever to be killed off in the same way, the two series would have to switch timeslots. It can be done (and has for crossovers, just look at The CW's "Elseworlds," which saw Supergirl and The Flash swap nights), but it's a risky move and could anger a fanbase that has been watching Grey's for 15 years.

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Instead, if they truly do want to make these crossovers as seamless as possible, they need look no further than the One Chicago universe and avoid using the word "event" (due to its connotations) as much as possible.

Crossover events are the ones we've seen the past three years with The CW's DC TV's "Invasion," "Crisis on Earth-X," and "Elseworlds," which brought together the casts of ArrowThe FlashLegends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl. We'll see it again with "Crisis on Infinite Earths."

(Elizabeth Sisson/NBC)

Meanwhile, Chicago MedFire, and P.D. (and sometimes Law & Order: SVU) do unite for similar events, usually linked together by a case that starts on one show and leads into the next (and occasionally swapping time slots). But we also see mini crossovers that prove that smaller is better.

Fire's EMTs have brought a patient into the ED on Med. Members of Firehouse 51, especially from Squad, have popped up at crime scenes on P.D. or, as happened this past season, have been called to an accident at Med. P.D.'s officers and detectives have stepped in to help with an investigation at the hospital or one involving a fire and have helped out when needed. Med's nurses and doctors have been part of rescues and received victims (sometimes one of the firefighters or officers) at the hospital.

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Story will determine which shows from the producer's universe will come together.

It helps that the Halstead brothers are on two of the three shows, allowing Jay to show up when something involves his family. Grey's can do something similar — and has — with Bailey and Ben. That allows for character moments that can be quite powerful and mean more than a storm that overtakes the entire city.

The Chicago shows also have Molly's to bring them together, even if just for a minute or two in an episode. Give the doctors and firefighters somewhere to wind down (Joe's Bar, anyone?), and start building up friendships across the shows.

(ABC/Mitch Haaseth)

In other words, we don't need OMG moments all the time. Use the characters in ways that make sense for their jobs and personal lives and connections, and that doesn't have to be done in such a way that makes the episodes feel like a two-parter. The shows can stand on their own every week while having moments that remind the audience of their shared universe, without making the crossover aspect draw focus.

For example, have two members of Station 19 bring in a patient and let it be about the patient. Have Grey's doctors at an accident scene and let it be focused on saving the person in trouble. Don't make any type of crossover more about the fact that there's a character from another show present than about what's actually playing out in the scene.

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And there can still be those big events once a season, especially since Station 19 is not a fall show. Give viewers a chance to breathe between big crossovers that put lives at risk or make for good headlines and promos.

Don't plan these in such a way that those who don't watch both shows are left feeling confused or wondering why they should care about a specific character. Grey's has aired 13 more seasons (and hundreds more episodes) than Station 19. Reward fans who watch both without isolating those who don't.

Grey's Anatomy, Season 16 Premiere, Fall 2019, ABC

Station 19, Season 3 Premiere, Coming soon, ABC